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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Guantanamo Attorney Found Dead in Apparent Suicide


Guantanamo Attorney Found Dead in Apparent Suicide
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 19:32
By Jason Leopold, Truthout | Report

An attorney who represented prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay was found dead last week in what sources said was a suicide.

Andy P. Hart, 38, a federal public defender in Toledo, Ohio, apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hart left behind a suicide note and a thumb drive, believed to contain his case files. It is unknown where Hart died, what the suicide note said or whether an autopsy was performed.

Hart’s death comes amid escalating chaos that has engulfed Guantanamo over the past three months—from a mass hunger strike to military commissions and renewed pressure on the White House to shut down the prison facility. Hart was one of three-dozen Guantanamo attorneys who signed a letter in March urging Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to take immediate action and bring about an end to the hunger strike.

Because Hart was a federal employee working on sensitive legal issues the FBI was contacted about his death. It is unknown if the agency has been investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 2, 2013, 07:58 AM (1 replies)

'The Point of No Return': Should Robots Be Able to Decide to Kill You On Their Own?


U.S. military using high-tech Predator drones.

'The Point of No Return': Should Robots Be Able to Decide to Kill You On Their Own?
By John Knefel
April 30, 2013 3:10 PM ET

A U.N. report released earlier this week called for a global moratorium on developing highly sophisticated robots that can select and kill targets without a human being directly issuing a command. These machines, known as Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs), may sound like science fiction – but experts increasingly believe some version of them could be created in the near future. The report, released by Professor Chrisof Heyns, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, also calls for the creation of "a high level panel on LARs to articulate a policy for the international community on the issue."

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a directive on the subject last year, which the U.N. report says "bans the development and fielding of LARs unless certain procedures are followed" – although DoD officials have called the directive "flexible."

Unlike groups like Human Rights Watch – which has called for an all-out ban on LARs – the U.N. report suggests a pause on their development and deployment, while acknowledging the uncertainty of future technologies. "The danger is we are going to realize one day we have passed the point of no return," Heyns tells Rolling Stone. "It is very difficult to get states to abandon weaponry once developed, especially when it is so sophisticated and offers so many military advantages. I am not necessarily saying LARs should never be used, but I think we need to understand it much better before we cross that threshold, and we must make sure that humans retain meaningful control over life and death decisions."

Others who follow the subject echo these concerns. "I believe (LARs are) a paradigm shift because it fundamentally changes the requirements for human responsibility in making decisions to kill," says Peter Asaro, co-founder and vice chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. "As such, it threatens to create automated systems that could deny us of our basic human rights, without human supervision or oversight."
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 2, 2013, 07:16 AM (1 replies)

VA backlog follows veterans to the grave


Sheryl Cornelius, widow of Jack Cornelius, a Vietnam veteran who killed himself in the family home in 2009, visits his grave at a cemetery in Hinton, Okla. With her are her sons, Jim Ray (left) and Ian Ray; Ian's wife, Robyn Ray; and their two children, Abbigael Graice and Eli.

VA backlog follows veterans to the grave
Aaron Glantz
May 01, 2013

Jack Cornelius sat in a wingback chair in his living room in the small town of Hinton, Okla., pointed a .22-caliber Sears, Roebuck & Co. rifle at his left temple and pulled the trigger.

When his wife, Hinton Mayor Sheryl Ann Cornelius, arrived home that evening, he was slumped in his chair, still clutching the gun.

Forty years after serving during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Jack remained tortured by the war. In the years before his death, the 61-year-old U.S. Army veteran downed prodigious amounts of vodka, drove his truck to random locations and talked of dead bodies floating in the water.

But even though Jack received an honorable discharge and sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder before his suicide in July 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied his widow’s request to help pay for his burial and declined to grant the monthly compensation intended for survivors of veterans with deaths linked to military service.

unhappycamper comment: Having had a front row seat for Tet of '68, I somewhat dimly understand what Jack was going thru. Shame on Veterans Affairs.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu May 2, 2013, 07:05 AM (2 replies)

Sec Army McHugh Says No Choice But Accept Apache Transmission Swaps; Line Would Have Shut Down


Army Secretary John McHugh gets a briefing at Fort Rucker, Ala., the Army's helicopter center, in March.

Sec Army McHugh Says No Choice But Accept Apache Transmission Swaps; Line Would Have Shut Down
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: April 30, 2013

WASHINGTON: The Secretary of the Army defended today what he admitted was "an unconventional approach" to fielding the service's cutting-edge AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter, saying the only alternative to the current complex workaround would have been to "shut the line down" for a time.


"What the hell IS going on?" McHugh interjected when I began to ask him what was up with the new helicopters, sending a ripple of laughter around the table at this morning's Defense Writers' Group breakfast. We've described this process as a shell game. "I might use a different phrasing," McHugh said with a chuckle.

"We were facing a very challenging problem, as you know," he said. "Boeing's subcontractor Northstar (Northstar Aerospace) went bankrupt... It wasn't able to produce the transmissions for the Apache in the kind of timely way that would've been necessary under the contract."

"Frankly, the one option other than the path we're on would've been pretty much to shut the line down," McHugh went on. "That would have killed the delivery of the systems to the Army" -- we presume he means temporarily, until transmission production could catch up -- "and it certainly wouldn't have inured to the economic beneift of either Boeing or the subcontractors' efforts to try to get its fiscal house in order" -- since stopping all work and all payments would make it even harder for Northstar to get back on its feet and making transmissions. "It would've laid off the workers totally," McHugh added. And as Congress has told the Army repeatedly when the service suggested shutting down armored vehicle production for a few years and then restarting it, it's often cheaper in the long term to keep a production line "hot," even at the price of short-term inefficiency, than to try to turn it on and off again.

unhappycamper comment: And this explains why Congress keeps ordering crap the military does not want.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed May 1, 2013, 10:17 AM (1 replies)

Another sales pitch for F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin


Stephen O'Bryan, VP of Lockeed F-35 Program showcases the Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter jet at the design exchange in Toronto April 8, 2013.

Another sales pitch for F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin
3:58 pm, April 30th, 2013

OTTAWA - As the feds check out alternatives to replace the old CF-18 fighter jets, the maker of the F-35 stealth fighter has launched another media blitz.

"You're going to buy a jet that Canada is going to keep in service for 40 years," said Lockheed Martin's Billie Flynn, a former Canadian air force pilot. "You either buy it at the beginning of its life and it grows with the military and with Canada's needs and the roles that are not yet thought of, or it atrophies 10 years into its lifetime."

His sales pitch came Tuesday during a web-based seminar by Lockheed Martin - its second Canadian public relations effort since February to promote the F-35.


Lockheed Martin's vice-president of the F-35 program, Steve O'Bryan, says if Canada ordered the F-35 this year, it would cost about $85 million per plane by the time the jets were delivered in 2020.

unhappycamper comment: "... if Canada ordered the F-35 this year, it would cost about $85 million per plane by the time the jets were delivered in 2020." - Yea, riiiight. And pigs might fly out my butt.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed May 1, 2013, 09:42 AM (0 replies)

CODE BLUE for the Pentagon’s $1.5 Trillion F-35


CODE BLUE for the Pentagon’s $1.5 Trillion F-35
By JACQUELINE LEO, The Fiscal Times
April 29, 2013

When you think of writing software code, you think of companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. But every new car we drive, every GPS system we use—almost everything with a plug or battery, with the possible exception of your desk lamp—is engineered with software.


The Pentagon commissioned the F-35 during the Clinton presidency. Lockheed Martin was chosen as the manufacturer.

Right now, each branch of the military has their own planes, meaning that numerous contracts existed with different contractors. Lockheed was expected to lower the cost of air defense by creating redundancies between the branches. It was ordered to produce three different versions of the F-35: the Marine version could take off and land vertically; the Navy version would be designed to take off from air craft carriers; and the Air Force version would take off from traditional runways. The Pentagon ordered nearly 2,500 planes for $382 billion, or fifty percent more than the original cost.

As the price soared, the Pentagon in 2010 deemed the program “too big to fail.” Yet it continues to fall short. Recent engine troubles are just the latest in a series of mechanical failures. A pilot was killed when oxygen to the cabin was cut off. The aircraft are running too hot, limiting their ability to operate in warm environments.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed May 1, 2013, 09:38 AM (1 replies)

'Torture Reinforcements' Not 'Medical Personnel' Arrive to Combat Gitmo Hunger Strike


US Military Calls in 'Force-Feeding Teams' as Guantanamo Hunger Strike Continues

'Torture Reinforcements' Not 'Medical Personnel' Arrive to Combat Gitmo Hunger Strike
- Jon Queally, staff writer
Published on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 by Common Dreams

The US military has confirmed that at least 40 "medical personnel" have arrived at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in order to expand a force-feeding operation designed to counter an ongoing hunger strike by more than 100 prisoners protesting their indefinite detention and ill treatment.

But because the procedure of "force-feeding" is widely held as a form of torture, critics of the practice may well view the medical teams as nothing more than 'torture reinforcements' as the number of those approved for the painful process continues to grow and their conditions deteriorate.

Military authorities repeatedly claim that force-feedings are somehow necessary, but experts are unequivocal when they declare that the procedure is torture.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission considers the practice of force-feeding—in which detainees are strapped to a restraining chair, have tubes pushed up their nostrils and liquids pumped down their throats—a clear form of torture. In addition, the World Medical Association prohibits its physicians from participating in force-feeding and the American Medical Association has just sent a letter to the Pentagon calling the practice an affront to accepted medical ethics.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed May 1, 2013, 08:30 AM (2 replies)

Afghanistan blames opium surge on global demand


Afghanistan blames opium surge on global demand
By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 17:07 EDT

Afghanistan, the world’s largest grower of opium poppies, should not shoulder all the blame for its drug surge, its foreign minister said Tuesday while on a visit to Estonia.

“It’s not only Afghanistan but the global demand for drugs that should be blamed for illegal narcotics from Afghanistan,” Zalmai Rassoul told reporters in Tallinn.

Bringing that demand down “requires an international effort”, he added, as Afghanistan struggles to eradicate its rapidly growing poppy industry.


Afghanistan already cultivates about 90 percent of the global opium supply and now production is expected to rise for a third straight year, expanding even to poppy-free areas.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed May 1, 2013, 07:08 AM (0 replies)
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